2011 Medical Elective

In spring 2011, my fellow medical student Jessica Overbury and myself spent six weeks completing our elective at the Gondar University Hospital, Northern Ethiopia. What we learnt in that time cannot be easily summed up in such a short piece of writing. However, what we experienced will never be forgotten. It allowed us not only to reflect on our student years in Leicester, but also to consider how our time in Gondar might affect our practice in future years as doctors.

On arrival, we were shown around the hospital by the programme coordinator there, Solomon, who was extremely helpful throughout our placement. I was slightly ashamed to see how much bigger, and more advanced the hospital was than I had initially envisaged.

Samual Krauze and Jessica Overbury.jpg
Samuel Krauze and Jessica Overbury - 5th year medical students from the University of Leicester on Elective in Gondar - April 2011

Whilst we were there, we spent most time with the exceptionally kind doctors and nurses in the internal medicine and paediatrics wards, but were also lucky enough to be able to go out with the 'community based rehabilitation' (CBR) team, as well as getting to know the extremely friendly and kind people of Gondar themselves, who were more than willing to discuss the latest goings on in the English Premier League!

Going out of Gondar to other, less developed towns with the CBR team was one of the best experiences we had, their clients were kind enough to let us into their homes to see the kind of work they were doing with children in their community. Before I got there, I had no idea this kind of work went on from the hospital, but I was fortunate enough to see these highly skilled people at work, ranging from teaching a deaf child and their parent Ethiopian sign language, to teaching an autistic child practical and communication skills, to helping a mother with some of the behavioural problems she was having with her Downs' Syndrome child.

Of the several things I noted that were different to the UK, what was the most striking is how the staff had to cope without the resources we are used to having back at home. For example, we saw several patients with leukaemia, who the doctors were doing their best for. But without the hospital or the patient having the ability to pay for the treatment required, supportive therapy was the only thing that could be done. This experience fulfilled one of my elective aims, to learn from an environment where treatments, or resources weren't always available.

Overall, I learnt much in Gondar, about common diseases there and their management, but also to appreciate the healthcare system we do in the UK, how the NHS should not be taken for granted, and why we should do all we can to protect it.

Written by: Samuel Krauze, Univer-sity of Leicester 5th Year Medical Student

If you are a medical student considering taking your elective in a developing country then contact Nichole Bruce- nb50@le.ac.uk for more information about the opportunities in Gondar.

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